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16/6/2021 | 2 minutes to read

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Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the Czech Republic after cardiovascular diseases, explaining nearly 27% of all deaths.[1] In 2020, there were around 67,000 new cases of cancer in the Czech Republic and 27,000 deaths.[2] With a median age of 43.3 years, the Czech Republic is among the top 30 oldest societies[3] and as other European nations, is ageing.[4] This signals that the cancer challenge is likely to continue to grow. By 2030, it is estimated that new cases will rise to about 76,000 and deaths to about 32,500.[5]

Cancer as a cause of death, percentage and ranking, estimates

2010 2019
Cancer as a percentage of all deaths Rank by cause of death Cancer as a percentage of all deaths Rank by cause of death
Czech Republic 28.51% 2nd 26.97% 2nd
Eastern Europe 24.80% 2nd 25.18% 2nd
Western Europe 30.81% 2nd 30.15% 2nd

Source: IHME, Global Health Data Exchange. Available at:

Most common cancers (total incidence and mortality), estimates, 2020

Incidence (total), both sexes Mortality (total), both sexes
2 3 1 2 3
Czech Republic Prostate Colorectum Breast Lung Colorectum Pancreas
Central and Eastern Europe Colorectum Breast Lung Lung Colorectum Breast
Western Europe Prostate Breast Lung Lung Colorectum Breast

Source: IARC, Cancer Today 2020. Available at:

Consistent with the profiles of other high-income countries, infection-related types of cancer (such as cervical, stomach or liver cancers) make up a relatively small portion of new cases, while lifestyle-related types of cancer are more significant. Prostate, colorectal, breast, lung and kidney cancer are the most common in terms of incidence while lung, colorectal, pancreas, breast and prostate are the most common in terms of deaths. [6]

The Czech Republic should also pay attention to risk factors which could impact the future cancer burden. There is a high prevalence of tobacco smoking (34.4% of adults), which is second only to Russia among the ten European countries examined in the ICP. Insufficient physical activity is also relatively high (31.1%), although it is worse in Germany, Italy, the UK and Romania. Obesity is another important risk factor, affecting 28.5% of adults, the second-worst after the UK in the ten European countries analysed.

Source: WHO. Background indicators collected for ICP

There are, however, good indicators of effectiveness of cancer control in the country. The mortality to incidence ratio (M:I) is a metric used to assess the overall efficiency of cancer control; assuming similar cancer burdens, a country with fewer deaths achieves a smaller ratio, thus there may be a more successful cancer control programme in place.[7] The ratio is below the average (where lower is better) of ten European countries examined, and at a similar level as France, Germany and Spain. Survival data is another key measure of success. Although not too far behind, there is still some catching to do with richer European countries in terms of five-year survival rates. For breast cancer, differences are somewhat small, but these are larger for prostate and colon cancer.

Source: EIU calculations, based on data from IARC

Five-year net survival rate (%) for selected cancers, 2010-14

Breast cancer five-year net survival Lung cancer five-year net survival Prostate cancer five-year net survival Colon cancer five-year net survival
Czech Republic 81.4 10.6 85.3 56.1
Germany 86 18.3 91.6 64.8
France 86.7 17.3 93.1 63.7
Spain 85.2 13.5 89.7 63.2
Source: C Allemani et al., Global surveillance of trends in cancer survival 2000–14 (CONCORD-3): analysis of individual records for 37 513 025 patients diagnosed with one of 18 cancers from 322 population-based registries in 71 countries, Lancet, 2018


[1] IHME, Global Health Data Exchange. Available from:

[2] IARC, Cancer Today 2020. Available from:

[3] CIA, World Factbook. Available at:

[4] European Commission, Czech Republic - Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions, 2021. Available from:

[5] IARC, Cancer Tomorrow. Available from:

[6] IARC, Cancer Today 2020. Available from:

[7] The Economist Intelligence Unit, Cancer Preparedness in Latin America: the need to build on recent progress, 2019. Available from:

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